me, 39.5 years ago
This past year has been a huge one for me. Usually, a lot happening in my life means that I write more often, but what I have been living has so intimately involved other people that I couldn’t share it here on the blog…the timing never seemed right. It is time.
For several years, Jack and I had been complacent about our marriage…to the point where we’d talked about splitting up. I wanted to move north to live closer to my son and his family, and Jack, although he didn’t specifically say this, wasn’t enthusiastic about the move. We floundered for a long time…not really together, not apart.
Last spring my oldest son, Tom, asked me what was going on with Jack and me. I couldn’t answer with anything but, “I’m not sure what Jack wants”. Fortunately for me, my sons do not accept my answers, when they have no depth, and he replied, “What do you want, Mom?” I couldn’t answer him. I wasn’t sure. I knew that I didn’t want things to continue as they were, but I also dreaded another divorce.
I’d been married twice before Jack. The first time I was 20 years old, and I knew it was a mistake…I did it anyway. After 17 years I got the courage to leave. My second marriage was very short-lived and happened right on the heels of the first ending. I met Jack less than a year after my second divorce in 2000.
So as I pondered my son’s question, “What do you want, Mom?” I felt at a loss. What I really wanted was a good marriage; a wonderful partnership with a man, but I feared that this wasn’t something I would or could have. I didn’t think I possessed the magical quality that made a good wife/partner.
I grew up in an unhappy home. My mother was highly critical of my father. I don’t remember her ever saying one nice thing about him. My father, although very friendly and social outside our home, was shut down emotionally, and escaped with alcohol and other women. The atmosphere of my childhood home was one of disappointment and anger, and deep down I believed that I was doomed to live out the same…change the man, change the town…it really wouldn’t matter. I sensed it was too late or maybe impossible for me to have the kind of life that I had wanted since I was a little girl.
I asked Jack for a divorce last summer. It just seemed like the logical thing to do. He said he didn’t want that, so I asked him what he wanted and he, just like me, couldn’t really say. In the meantime, I had begun to let Jack go. I even said to him, “I’m not sure what you want, or even if you should want what I do, but I am going to stop trying to change you or get you to line up with my dream.” I think he felt relief …and I didn’t blame him. I had been extremely critical and unsupportive, so me taking my attention off him, I’m sure felt good.
I began to walk miles a day. I lost some weight and also started doing yoga. I felt happier than I had in a long time. Jack and I weren’t any closer but it was OK with me…and apparently with him as well…we’d even stopped wearing our wedding rings.
Then in late July, I found out that another woman had come into Jack’s life. I discovered emails that they had exchanged and I knew that they had also met in person. I wrote about this last August on the blog, but never said specifically what the situation had been. I couldn’t write it at that point. When I found out, I was alone in our home. After talking with my son, Matt, and calming down enough to breath, I called Jack and said, “I know about H…. and I am leaving”.
He said, “That was the biggest mistake of my life. Please stay home. I’ll be right there.” 5 minutes later he walked in the door and asked me to stay, but I had such an eerie, cold, calm feeling happening inside me. I was cut off from life. I felt almost dead, and “in control” at the same time. I told him I was leaving and he was free to pursue that relationship. He said he didn’t want to, but I knew that he and I were over. I got in my car and drove to Tom’s house. My son Matt was also visiting at the time, so that evening, Tom, his wife Lindsay, Matt and I all sat around their living room and talked. They loved me at a time when I really needed it, but I was filled with a firm resolve to leave.
I went to bed that night but was unable to sleep at all. At some point I finally asked for help. I asked my higher self to show me the Truth of the situation and to show me my part. I asked to stay open and to not get hard. Then I saw it. I saw how I had become toward Jack the same person that my mother had been toward my father: cold, dismissive, unavailable, nagging, unsupportive. The revelation made me sob. And then, it broke. This hard shell that I had carried for most of my adult life broke off. I called my sister at 5 a.m. and told her everything including my revelation. I didn’t know what she would say but I knew she’d give me an answer from her heart, not her head. I told her that I wanted to go back to Jack. I wanted to tell him what I saw in myself and ask for forgiveness. I couldn’t believe this was how I felt. I’d always considered myself to be a proud person…to a fault, but here I was in the face of what seemed like a huge betrayal on his part, asking for his forgiveness? Yes.
I headed back home that morning not knowing if he’d be there or not, but I knew that I had to do it. I drove into the driveway and he was standing outside with open arms…and his wedding ring back on his finger. I went inside and put mine back on too.
We began again.
Today is April Fools Day. I’ve been writing for several hours and hope I can post today but I need to run it past Jack before I do. It has to be OK with him too. I hope it is because I think this story, our story, needs to be told.
So here is the “fool” part for me. I never wanted to be made a fool of. For so much of my life I feared not being taken seriously or looking bad. I feared the unknown. I feared getting hurt. I feared I was unloveable. I feared I couldn’t really love. I feared that in almost any situation I went into, I wouldn’t have enough information and I’d look like a fool. So when all of this happened, and I realized that I knew so little about being an intimate partner, or about my partner’s needs, I opened up and allowed myself to be taught. I knew that that I didn’t know what I was doing, but I wanted to grow….and I have.
After Jack and I got back together, I could not forget what I’d read in those emails…especially hers. At first the pain was so intense that I thought I’d burst, but as my heart opened more and more, I realized that she was teaching me…she said things to Jack that I never did…even when I thought them. I didn’t “copy” her, I just learned and realized what I hadn’t done by seeing/reading a living example of kind, supportive, communication. It was a blessing to have these words…not to my ego, of course, but that was OK. At times I felt humiliated but knew deep down, that I, the true me, wasn’t injured. I also sensed that this was all happening “for me” not “to me”… no matter how hard it was at times. I also knew that this situation had the potential for awakening all 3 of us.
Over the last 8 months, I’ve said a silent thank you, hundreds of times, for all that happened. Without it, I don’t know where I’d be today. Would this opening have occurred without the trauma? I don’t know, but if I could rewind time, I wouldn’t change a thing. Spirit did for me what I wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do for myself and I allowed the change. I allowed the “blow” to break me open, not harden my shell even more. I feel like a good wife and a good partner for the first time in my life. The situation changed Jack too…we are both more humble, more grateful, more in awe of how Spirit works in mysterious ways. We are learning how to love.
I just finished reading this to Jack. It is difficult to expose ourselves in this way, but we both agree that it is time. We’ve opened our hearts to each other, and now we open our lives and our hearts to you. Our wish is that you will find something in our story to help you open up, or stay open, too.
Much love, Mary and Jack
“Our task is to dissolve the imaginary self and live from our real center of being. That is the only way to human health. But it is the sure cure. It is like removing a distorting blanket from a statue, enabling us to see its true form. I find the greatest single barrier to attaining this is man’s secret assumption that he already knows the answers to his problems. Bu we all sense this pretense. Millions of unhappy people make this false assumption, but do not see it, thus freezing their potentialities for happiness. A tremendous power works for the man who meets a challenging problem with the honest admission, ‘I don’t know the answer.'”
page 22, The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power, by Vernon Howard